Hometown: Hinesville, Ga.
Proud Member of Armstrong Class of: 2013
From Fast Food to Medicine
Ramon Hartage spent his high school career thinking he was a bad student. When he graduated in 2006, his GPA was only a 2.2, and the semester before that, only a 1.9. It wasn’t that he lacked ambition, but rather, he had not found anything that awakened ambition in him. That is, until he came to Armstrong.
Upon high school graduation, Ramon continued his job at a local fast food chain where he eventually became a manager.
“I was working 63 hours a week there and only making $22,000 a year,” said Ramon. “It just wasn’t very fulfilling.”
His frustration with his job was the push he needed to start a change in his life. He was two years out of high school and a little bit more mature. Though school had been a struggle in the past, he knew that college would be different because this time, the choice to learn was his and his alone and unfortunately, the journey to college would be all his own as well.
“My parents weren’t so thrilled about the idea of me going to college because I did so terrible in high school,” said Ramon. “They thought it was a waste of money.”
With something to prove, Ramon enrolled at Armstrong in 2008 without the blessing or knowledge of his parents.
“They didn’t want me to go, so I didn’t want to tell them,” said Ramon.
He saved his own money to help get through his first semester. He had to cut back his hours at Subway in order to juggle a full class schedule, which prompted him to get a second, more flexible job at the commissary on Ft.
Stewart stocking shelves to help supplement the lost income.
While working two jobs and attending school full-time without the emotional support of his family was a challenge, Ramon found the encouragement and guidance he needed to make it through from his professors at Armstrong.
“Every class and every teacher took an interest in me,” said Ramon. “It made me like Armstrong a lot more.”
It was actually one of Ramon’s biology professors, Starr Holland, which really made an impact on not just his education, but also his life.
“She asked me to stay after class one day and asked what I wanted to do with my life,” Ramon recalled.
Though Ramon had discovered a love for science and was excelling as a chemistry major, he hadn’t quite thought of the big picture of what to do after graduation.
“She suggested I be a doctor,” said Ramon.
There were a lot of firsts for Ramon. This was the first time he had ever been the best student in a class; the first time an educator ever truly took an interest in his life outside of school; and the first time anyone believed in him enough to be something as great and noble as a doctor. However, most of all, it was the first time that Ramon knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
“They are well-respected and you get to save lives,” said Ramon.
This was a revelation that sat well with Ramon’s parents who eventually found out about his secret schooling during his second semester.
“My dad came in to Subway one day, didn’t see me and wanted to know where I was,” said Ramon. “So I told him.”
Ramon’s dad was shocked, and the news even prompted a physical reaction close to fainting.
“As soon as I told him, his eyes rolled back,” said Ramon.
Ramon’s parents weren’t angry about the deceit. After all, when most kids lie, it’s usually not to cover up the fact that you’re actually going to school.
“They love it a lot and they’re really happy,” said Ramon.
Ramon graduated in 2013 and is attending the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, where he was admitted with a well-deserved 3.8 GPA.